An optimistic yet realistic look at the problems and possibilities of global food production.


Canadian journalist and college instructor Boyle’s nonfiction work seeks a way to combat climate change by taking a lesson from European history.

The first half of this book delineates the United Kingdom’s approach to food-supply problems during the turbulent years leading up to and during the Second World War. At the time, the U.K. depended greatly on food importation, which would certainly be threatened by a military conflict. Led by Lord Woolton, the newly appointed Minister of Food, the government instigated a bold campaign to change citizens’ expectations and approaches to farming and eating. A rationing system was implemented, and government intervention aimed to make agricultural practices more productive. The government also made use of the media to encourage more food production in home gardens or allotments and discourage food waste, among other actions. Interestingly, despite the restrictions, this system resulted in better nutrition for poorer people in the nation and led to an overall healthier citizenry with better morale. Boyle argues that our modern war is against climate change, to which our current food production system contributes. In order to face this threat, she asserts, humankind must “fundamentally change the way we grow and consume food.” She talks about current projects and programs that are making positive change, such as private companies committing to ethically sourced produce, apps for finding farmers markets, and farmers and ranchers aiming to “produce healthy food that is affordable and kinder to animals, local environments, and climate.” In this informative book, Boyle effectively outlines applicable lessons from the U.K.’s WWII–era food-supply approach to problems of today, noting that change can occur in systems as well as individual choices; that strong public leadership is a necessity; and that nations need to come together in common cause. Overall, this thoroughly researched and referenced book is compelling, and many readers’ eyes will be opened to a large-scale problem and the potential for addressing it through concerted, deliberate action. Throughout, Boyle argues her points convincingly, and many will find a sense of hope in her ideas.

An optimistic yet realistic look at the problems and possibilities of global food production.

Pub Date: April 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-03-912367-0

Page Count: 294

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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